sod on clay

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Stonewall, Apr 18, 2001.

  1. Stonewall

    Stonewall LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 280

    I have a client that laid centipede sod on clay. Now the grass is thinning out the the turf is rock hard. What can I do to encourage better growth? Anything to help transform the clay into something more conducive to grass growth? A friend just bought a franchise with organic liquid fertilizer and has seen results that turned Mississippi clay into several inches of good topsoil. It's kinda pricey though.
  2. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,183

    I've seen sand work wonders on this Alabama red clay. It might help the problem out. Water it well.
  3. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    The clay is thick here too. When it's wet you can't get it off of your shovel and when it dry it's hard as a rock. Gypsum seems to work well for breaking it up deep enough to grow grass.
  4. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,494

    Aerate and topdress with sand. The sand willfill the cores, and promote drainage, allowing water, oxygen, and nutrients to more readily reach the root system.
  5. eslawns

    eslawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 712

    You may need to aerate several times to allow the sand to percolate into the clay. I would also put down some compost. This helps to encourage critters, which can be beneficial to your cause.
  6. NateinAtl

    NateinAtl LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Posts: 121

    aerate the crap out of it. When the clay is soft you can pull some unbelievable plugs because they don't break up like other soils do. Pull at least 10 plugs per square foot. Centipede is a slow creeping grass so don't expect miracles. But make sure the customer aerates at least once a year. By the way, how much sunlight is the lawn getting?
  7. powerreel

    powerreel Banned
    Posts: 481

    You are going to need to build soil. Sand and aeration are helpful but you are going to need organic matter within your soil structure, you need to top dress with compost.In Seattle we have blue clay, or marine clay, I top dress with compost and apply humic acids. I am not a warm season turf guy, with my cool season I mulch as much as possible.We use reels so this is very easy even in the rain, also calpril is dropped in fall and spring.Here is a link for humic acids: or these are both cost effective sources.Also keep in mind mineral chelation is key, a rusting car buried under a lawn isn't an iron source, clay will take some time but can be done and the end result is a stable soil that will produce. Good Luck And Be Patient!!!
  8. Stonewall

    Stonewall LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 280

    Thanks for the help.


    Most of it is in full sun.
  9. Stonewall

    Stonewall LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 280

    I wasn't exactly right about the sod being on clay. It's on compacted fill dirt, but I imagine this is almost as bad. Please correct me if I'm wrong. This is in a townhome community, and I would like them to install the sod better in the future as they continue to build. What are the correct preparations for the dirt before laying sod?

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